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IN FOCUS: Rehabilitation Bonds and Financial Assurance

4 July 2024

Mining and exploration activities in Australia are regulated to protect the environment and ensure landholders are not adversely impacted.  Each Australian jurisdiction has systems to secure financial assurances from operators before starting exploration or mining activities.  Here is an overview of the regimes across various states:

  1. New South Wales (NSW)

    • Operators must lodge bonds covering the full cost of rehabilitation.
    • The security deposit can be reviewed at any time by the minister or on the secretary’s initiative, particularly at key points like title renewal, transfer, or significant changes in rehabilitation liability.
  2. Queensland

    • Utilizes a hybrid model combining a pooled fund and surety.
    • Operators calculate their Estimated Rehabilitation Cost (ERC) and apply for an ERC decision. The financial assurance payment matches the ERC.
  3. Western Australia

    • Operates a Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) with an annual levy of 1% of the estimated rehabilitation liability.
    • Unconditional performance bonds may be imposed for high-risk tenements to ensure rehabilitation liabilities do not revert to the state.
  4. Northern Territory

    • Security amounts are calculated based on the likely disturbance caused by mining activities.
    • An annual levy of 1% of the full environmental bond amount contributes to the legacy mines fund addressing old mining liabilities.
  5. South Australia

    • Operators must cover 100% of the estimated rehabilitation liability.
    • Estimates are reviewed by the Department, which sets the final bond based on reasonable third-party rehabilitation costs.
  6. Tasmania and Victoria

    • Both require security deposits, although specific details are not provided in the summary.

Rehabilitation Cost Estimate (REC) in NSW

The security deposit assessment can be requested by the minister or initiated by the secretary and reviewed during several instances such as:

  • Title renewal, transfer, or relinquishment.
  • Approval of activities or plans like exploration or rehabilitation management plans.
  • Annual reporting or upon completion of rehabilitation.
  • Following environmental incidents, audits, or changes in final land use.

Title holders can also request a review of the security deposit requirements by submitting a REC to ensure the deposit covers the rehabilitation liability of the title and any associated activities.

Key Contact

Blair Pleash

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